Why do UK motorists neglect their vehicles during winter?


According to the RAC you are 50% more likely to breakdown in winter as you are in summer, so why aren’t UK motorists preparing for winter?






View full winter survey results breakdown here: 


Winter Tyres

It’s claimed that winter tyres improve traction when temperatures fall below 7°C, which can have a significant impact on stability and braking. Winter tyres would stop a vehicle 11 metres sooner than summer tyres (when braking on an icy road at 20mph), that’s 4.8 metres shorter than on wet conditions at 60mph.


The average UK temperature last winter (December 2012 to February 2013) was 3.3°C - so why are 92% of UK motorists not using winter tyres? Research carried out by CarsandGarages found that only 8% of UK motorists bother to replace their summer tyres with the winter equivalent.


The research found that 54% of motorists asked found winter tyres too expensive – (the average cost is approximately £500 per set – depending on make/model of your vehicle).


22 % of motorists claim that the UK weather is not severe enough; an unusual result given that 40% of the days throughout 2012 had a temperature less than 7°C (the recommended temperature to change to winter tyres).  


The other reasons given for not applying winter tyres to their vehicle were 9% drove less in the winter than normal, 5% don’t have anywhere to store the tyres, 5% don’t think they work any better and 7% gave other reasons.


How does the UK compare to Europe with Winter Tyres?

Across Europe, winter tyres are compulsory in a number of countries (as is carrying a snow chain), so why is the UK different?


With temperatures regularly dropping below the recommended driving conditions for summer tyres, should the UK be considering making winter tyres compulsory?  


Assuming the UK government did make it compulsory to have winter tyres fitted to your vehicle as is done across Europe, the winter tyre industry would be worth £17.25billion – not taking into account summer tyre costs, storage, and fitting costs.


Winter Checks

Getting your vehicle ready for winter helps you to prepare for the cold weather that is inevitable – checking tyres, brakes, lights, oil etc to make sure your vehicle will be safe in the poor conditions.


Research from CarsandGarages has discovered that 64% of motorists DON’T do any sort of winter check, but of those who do 30% carry out their own and only 6% go to a garage for one.


What could go wrong with your vehicle in winter?

·         Oil – thickens in cold weather meaning your engine has to work hard, causing engine wear;

·         Wiper Blades – used more in winter and deteriorate rapidly when used on icy windscreens;

·         Tyres – Tyre pressure drops in cold weather, leading to higher fuel consumption and less grip;

·         Light bulbs – Can fail making driving in dark poor conditions, dangerous for you, as well as other road users;

·         Battery – Old batteries can struggle or fail when temperatures drop, which could leave you stranded;

·         Screen wash –essential for keeping your windscreen clear of dirt/grit in winter, but screen wash can freeze and become unusable if not diluted correctly.


By carrying out simple checks, this can reduce the possibility of you experiencing any of these problems with your vehicle; what’s more many garages now provide free winter checks.  


Do motorists change their driving habits in winter?


UK motorists are advised that by following a few simple steps and changing their driving habit slightly, they can avoid getting stuck or losing control of their car. Driving in these winter conditions require motorists to be a lot more delicate with the vehicle controls and have much greater anticipation.


Encouragingly, CarsandGarages found that 51% of drivers change their driving habits in winter; however 49% do not alter their driving habit in poorer conditions.


Do you prepare a ‘winter kit’ for your car for winter?


CarsandGarages has found that 54% of motorist don’t prepare or carry a winter pack in their vehicle.


When travelling in winter weather it’s recommended to carry a ‘winter pack’ so that in the event of being stranded or stuck in traffic for long periods of time, you are prepared.

A winter pack often contains:

·         A torch

·         Snow Shovel

·         Blankets /extra clothing

·         High visibility vest

·         Windscreen scraper / de-icer

·         Non perishable food and water

·         First aid kit


Have you taken part in any winter driving courses?

Winter driving courses help motorists to adjust to the driving conditions in extreme weather conditions, helping motorists to deal with skid pans, aquaplaning, and braking distances. These courses also teach drivers about adding extra traction to your vehicle to get round tight corners and up hills.


However, CarsandGarages found that 28% of motorists asked were not even aware that winter driving courses were available and only 5% of motorists had taken part in a winter driving course. The remaining 67% of those surveyed had never had a ‘tutored’ winter driving experience – is this something that should be mandatory?


Summary of results

CarsandGarages’ research has found that a large percentage of UK motorists do nothing to prepare their vehicle for winter, failing to make their vehicle safe for the more challenging conditions experienced in winter. However, they did find that 51% of motorists change their driving habit to deal with the conditions.


92% of motorists don’t fit winter tyres to their vehicle despite the benefits, with 54% stating cost as the main factor.


65% of motorists don’t carry out any winter checks to their vehicle, with only 6% going to a garage to get one – in spite of the fact that many offer them at no cost.


54% of motorists don’t prepare a winter pack containing items necessary for being stranded in poor weather.


28% of motorists are not aware of winter driving course which can help drivers to understand and control their vehicle in poor conditions, with only 5% of motorists taking part in a winter driving course.


Overall although UK motorists make changes to their driving style their vehicle is not prepared, surely these should go hand in hand as having an unsafe or poorly prepared vehicle will make changing your driving style irrelevant.


Winter Survey carried out November 2013 of 107 motorists in the UK.




Search UK Petrol Prices for free on PetrolPrices.com
DVLA Personalised Registrations
Link to Directgov - public services all in one place